Answered By: Colin Magee
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2022     Views: 7

Different types of information

When doing research, you'll likely come across different types of information.  Today we'll look at some of the characteristics of the different kinds of information that you can access through the library and on the web.  Today we're going to look for books and articles using the library's ProQuest database. 



ProQuest is the library's largest database – used mostly for finding scholarly information, usually published in scholarly journals.  But you can use ProQuest to find all kinds of information, including books, videos, and different types of articles from scholarly journals, newspapers, and magazines.


Madisonville Community College website with the "Quick links" highlighted and "Current Students" selected.

To access ProQuest, you'll first need to go to the library's website. You can get there through MyPath, or go to the college's website: Go to "Quick Links" at the top, then "Current Students."


"Current Students" page of the MCC website, with the tile for "Library" highlighted.

From Current Students, go to "Library."


MCC Library website, with the tile for "Research databases" selected.

Now that you're at the library's website, go down to the "Research Databases" tile.


The tile for "ProQuest" is highlighted on the "Research Databases" page

From this page, ProQuest is the first tile on there. Be sure to log in with your KCTCS username and password if prompted.


The ProQuest landing page features a search box.  Highlighted are the tab for "All" and the checkbox for "full text."  The word Water is entered into the search box.

ProQuest is actually a collection of different databases, which is why it says you're searching 6 different ones. One of the databases is an Ebook collection called ProQuest Ebook Central, and one is a streaming video collection called Academic Video Online. If you wanted to search specifically for books or for videos, you can click the tab above the search box for "books" or for "videos & audio."  The main database in ProQuest is ProQuest Central, which is a massive database for finding articles from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. You're probably better off searching the whole thing, so make sure the tab above the search box is set to "All," and make sure the checkbox below the search box is set to "full text."


ProQuest search box with the words water pollution entered into the search box.

Today we're going to search for information on water supply issues.  We'll start out by searching for information on water pollution.  I'm going to type those two words into the search box and hit search and we'll be taken to our search results.


ProQuest search results screen showing 1.8 results.  Filtering the results to "books" is highlighted under source type.

Searching water pollution turns up 1.8 million results.  Because today, we're looking at the characteristics of different types of information, the first thing we'll do is filter our results by source type.  Over on the left side, you can select which type of resource you want to see in your search results.  So let's start out with books.  Click on "Books" under source type to filter your results to books.


Characteristics of books

The main thing to remember about books is that they are much, much longer than an article.  So usually an article has a couple of key messages, or ideas, that they're trying to get across.  A book usually has many ideas, and goes into depth on most of those ideas.  So, books are sometimes a little too detailed.  The other thing to remember about books is that the author is usually an expert at what they are writing about, and they have to do a lot of research to write a book.  So the information in books is somewhat more accurate or valid than maybe something out of a short article or a website.

So three things: Depth--books are long.  Authority--the author is an expert, and content—usually pretty accurate.

Also, fewer books get published each year than articles.  News articles are published every single day, for example, whereas a book takes time to write, and so there are fewer of them. 

Because of this, it's not always easy to find a book on a specific subject.  For example, we might not be able to find a book that's been written about the Flint Water crisis that happened a few years ago in Michigan.  You can find thousands of articles about that incident, but no books about it in our book collection. 


ProQuest search results, showing results for Books about water pollution.  A link to a book about oil spills is highlighted.

So let's take a look at this book here about oil spills just as an example of a book about water pollution.  You can click on the title. 


The record screen for the book Marine Coastal and Water Pollutions, with the "Read online" link highlighted on the left.

And then click "Read Online" on the left. 


The book Marine Coastal and Water Pollutions is loaded on the screen.  The table of contents and "search within" box are highlighted on the left.

Once the book loads, you can look at the table of contents on the left side, or search within the book.  Typing in “plants,” for example, shows you each page in this book where that word occurs. 

From the screen showing the book Marine Coastal and Water Pollutions, the table of contents is expanded on the left to show page results with the word "plant" on it.

You can click down here to expand that, and it will take you to that page. 


From the book Marine Coastal and Water Pollutions, the "cite" icon at the top is highlighted.

At the top, you can access your MLA citation by clicking on the speech bubble icon. 


The MLA citation is loaded in a pop up box in front of the book Marine Coastal and Water Pollutions.

Copy and paste the citation into your Works Cited page.


On the ProQuest search results screen showing Books, the limit that deselects "Books" is highlighted on the left under Applied Filters.

Let's go back to our search results and see what else we can find.  Let's clear the filter for "books."  Click the X for books under your Applied Filters. 


In the search box at the top of the ProQuest search results page, the search phrase "water crisis" AND flint is typed in.

Now, let's do a more detailed search to find information specifically about the Flint water crisis.  The Flint water crisis was an incident involving contaminated drinking water in the city of Flint, Michigan a few years ago.  You can do a more detailed search by putting quotation marks around words you want to treat as a phrase -- words that go together.  So I'm going to type "water crisis" in quotation marks.  You can also combine different phrases together with the word AND.  So, I'm going to type "water crisis" in quotation marks, AND flint.  Now it will search for information about the water crisis specifically, but more specifically, the water crisis in Flint.


In the ProQuest search results page showing all results, the limit for "Video and Audio Works" is selected under Source Type.

Let's see if we can find a video about the Flint water crisis.  Right now the search results are showing all types of information.  We'll filter our source type -- this time, to audio and video.  Under source type, click "Audio & Video Works." 


With the ProQuest search results screen now showing only video & audio, the link to the video "From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City" is highlighted.

It looks like there are a couple of interesting documentaries about the Flint water crisis.  Let's click on "From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City."

So you can get information from a documentary that sometimes you can't get from an article.  In this case, there were a lot of interviews with different people who lived in Flint who are giving a firsthand account of what the crisis was like.  So sometimes videos will be a good resource for when you're doing research.


The video "From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City" is loaded.  The abstract is below the video player.

To get an idea of what the video is about, you can scroll down to the Abstract, which is a summary of the video. 


The video "From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City" is playing, with closed captions turned on.  The link to the citation below the video player is highlighted.

When you play the video, you can turn captions on, and there is also a transcript on the right side of the video, which you can search.  Below the video is your citation.  You do have to cite a video in your paper the same way you would cite a print resource. 


The citation box showing an MLA citation for the video "From Flint: voices of a Poisoned City" loads in front of the video player.

Here is the MLA citation for the video.


Your turn

So to summarize, you can use ProQuest to find books and videos. But mostly, you're going to want to use ProQuest to find articles.  So let's take a quick break, and then we'll look at finding articles.

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